A friend in need is a friend indeed: Keeping your groundnuts free from aflatoxin contamination

| October 14, 2019

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One of this week’s Farmer stories and one of this week’s Resources focus on aflatoxin.

A friend in need is a friend indeed is a four-part drama that includes a fictional interview with an agricultural scientist after each episode. The drama and the interviews focus on farming practices that reduce aflatoxin contamination in groundnuts. They focus on the situation in Malawi, but can easily be adapted to other African countries that grow groundnuts.

Aflatoxin is a toxic substance that is produced by certain types of microscopic creatures called fungi (named “germs” in the drama). The fungi infect groundnuts, as well as maize and other crops, and cause the foods to rot. As part of the infection process, the fungi produce a substance called aflatoxin.

Aflatoxin is a serious threat to human health as it can cause cancer and stunt children’s growth. It can also have serious economic effects. For example, Malawi had a thriving export trade in groundnuts until that market was lost because of high levels of aflatoxin contamination.

Aflatoxin contamination in groundnuts is a serious problem because groundnuts form a major part of the diets of poor rural people as a more affordable source of protein than more expensive animal products.

This four-part drama highlights the steps farmers can take to prevent aflatoxin contamination in groundnuts. The first part concentrates on finding aflatoxin-free nuts for planting. Later episodes focus on ways to prevent aflatoxin contamination in the field and during harvest, storage, and marketing.

The conversations with the scientist are based on actual interviews with an agricultural scientist who works with groundnuts. You could use this drama as an inspiration to produce a similar program on groundnuts, on aflatoxin, or on groundnut diseases in your area.

Or, you might choose to present this drama as part of your regular farmer program, using voice actors to represent the speakers. You could present one episode every week for four weeks. After the program, you could follow up by inviting a local groundnut extension agent or scientist to take phone-in and text-in questions and comments from local farmers on the material in the drama.